You Called Me Achilles

Art featured; Achilles Removing Patroclus’ Body From The Battle, By Léon Davent (c. 16th century)

There’s a billboard, somewhere in the middle 

of Ohio, because I’m not American and that sounds

like a place that could be haunted,

but      haunted      for real:

by hands that are flesh and are war and are love.

Am I derailing, Patroclus? I apologize.

There’s a billboard in a place that is probably Ohio,

probably not the country you live in,

and it say:

           YOU ARE ACHILLES.

It’s your writing. Printed, nameless and antique,

old like something that made the Trojan war

a war, a filthy touch, a delicate violence;

old like something like us, Patroclus-

a little queer family of two natural catastrophes.

You’d be the weather, 

a weather that is music

     (like a poorly inserted reference 

      that no one but us will get),

I’d      be      the      war.

I make you breakfast and over the little ugly table

          YOU CALL ME ACHILLES.

In summer I wear baggy and flowery shorts

so that I can raise my martyr legs and drag

my strong ankles to your working face, asking 

you to touch my tendons and see

if     I      die.

In winter I roll up the earthy green jeans 

so that I can raise my legs and drag

my weak ankles to your working face, asking

you to clean up the blood around them.

I     never     die.

          I AM ACHILLES.

I don’t know how to end this poem.

It might be because I never understood war,

so in a way I can never lose.

The sweet violence has become a friendship,

the brute tragedy has become a pause,

as the dead rise up again with blood pooling 

at their devoted ankles. They salute me,

and pray to me, for me, that me

      –      Oh, Achilles     –

                         , that we 

      –     Of, Patroclus     –

come back home.

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